Changes to Ryerson University’s journalism program will end the school’s magazine 26-year-old stream in 2009. Under the revised curriculum—the initial group is now finishing its first year—students will not “stream” into one specialty area of journalism (newspaper, magazine, broadcast or online). Instead, they’ll be allowed to choose courses in a variety of disciplines.
Paul Knox, Ryerson School of Journalism chair, says changes made to the program reflect larger changes taking place in the journalism field. Employers today are looking for journalists who can “stream video and audio, as well as write text and put together a traditional broadcast line up,” Knox says.
“Masthead” courses, such as the one where students produce the Ryerson Review of Journalism, will no longer be mandatory. The media criticism magazine, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, will continue to publish, says associate professor Lynn Cunningham.
Some courses, such as the third-year Magazine Fundamentals class, where students learn to fact check and copy edit for magazines and study things like industry jargon and business practices, will be modified and made available to all everyone in the program. Bill Reynolds, the instructor who has overseen production of the RRJ since 2004, thinks this may be a drawback, since fact checking for magazines differs from fact checking for newspapers.
Reynolds is also concerned students will think they have more choice than they actually do. “If you start final year in magazine, you have to finish in magazine,” he says. “You can’t be the editor [of the RRJ] first term and decide to move to broadcast second term.”
While the streaming system is being eliminated, students will be able to cluster courses together, says Joyce Smith, a journalism prof at Ryerson and member of the curriculum board. “There’s a lot more emphasis on skills, many of which are pretty transferable between media,” she says.
Rachel Barsky, a final-year student in the magazine stream, says she is jealous of the new options future students will have. Most people in her program would have liked to have the specialized reporting classes that will part of the new curriculum, she says, including international reporting, sports reporting, business reporting, health reporting and photojournalism.